Posts Tagged ‘Americans With Disabilities Act’

EEOC Recovers $49K for Job Applicant Told He Was “Too Slow” for Position as Food Packager

Hopefully, this staffing agency and others like it won’t make any more assumptions about applicants being “too slow” for the job.

Adecco USA, Inc., a staffing agency based in Jacksonville, Fla., will pay $49,500 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced last Friday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, in April 2016, an applicant with learning and other mental disabilities visited Adecco’s office in Corry, Pa., to apply for a food packaging and distri­bution position. The EEOC charged that an Adecco official refused to place the applicant with disabilities in the position he requested. The official told him he was “too slow” for the job after he had difficulty reading and comprehending a pre-employment test. The Adecco official placed other appli­cants in the food packag­ing and distribution position and subsequently offered the applicant a job cleaning cars, according to the lawsuit.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employment discrimination based on disability. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Adecco USA, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00250-SPB) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Erie Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to paying $49,500 to the worker, the agreed-upon consent decree approved by the federal court enjoins future violations of the ADA and requires that Adecco implement various measures to prevent workplace disability discrimination. Those measures include modifications to its existing policy prohibiting disability discrimination and extensive ADA training for certain person­nel. The company must post a notice to employees relating to the settlement and furnish reports to the EEOC semi-annually concerning allegations of disability discrimination regarding the Corry location.

“Just like the rest of the labor force, workers with learning and other mental disabilities provide highly valuable contributions to their employers and to our national economy, and those workers have a legal right to do so free from discrimination,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence.

EEOC District Director Jamie Williamson added, “Employers cannot deny a job to a qualified applicant because of his disability. We are pleased that this settlement compensates the worker for his monetary losses and will protect other workers from disability discrimination.”

Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

Walmart ADA Settlement With EEOC Includes Nationwide Change to Reassignment Policies

Some lawsuits redound well beyond the immediate parties, to have even national implications. This is one such.

Walmart  Inc. will pay $80,000 and implement nationwide changes to its disability reassignment policy to settle a disability discrimination  lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the  federal agency announced Friday.

According to the EEOC’s  lawsuit, Walmart  violated federal law by  failing to reassign a long- term employee at its Augusta, Maine location  to vacant positions in its  Waterville or Thomaston, Maine  locations after she became disabled.  The lawsuit alleged that Veronica Resendez, who had worked for Walmart  since 1999, developed a disability that, according  to Walmart,  prevented her from continuing to work in a sales associate position in Augusta. Walmart determined that the only positions that  could accommodate her disability  were fitting room associate and people greeter. While there were  no such positions vacant  in Augusta, there were two fitting room associate positions open in Waterville and one  in Thomaston. Walmart’s policy, however, was to search for open positions only in the store where  the employee had been working.  Because of this, Walmart did not transfer Ms. Resendez to the positions in  Waterville or Thomaston, which  she would have happily accepted. As a result, Ms. Resendez never worked for Walmart  again.

The  Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) prohibits employers from discriminating based  on disability and imposes a  requirement that employees with disabilities be provided a reasonable    accommodation, absent  undue hardship on the employer. The ADA states  that one of these accommodations is reassignment to a vacant position.

The  EEOC filed its suit (Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00170-JDL) in U.S. District  Court for the District  of Maine in Bangor after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through  its conciliation process.

As  part of the settlement, which was approved  by the Court yesterday, Walmart will change its policy so associates with a disability that are eligible  for job reassignment under the ADA as a reasonable accommodation can request that Walmart search at up to five stores beyond  an associate’s then-current store location  (“home store”) or in the home store’s entire market.  The revised procedures will be applied to all hourly field associates working in Walmart  retail stores in the United States.

Walmart is also enjoined from failing  to offer to reassign  a qualified individual with a disability to a vacant position. Finally, Ms. Resendez will receive  payment of $80,000.

“Federal law requires employers to reassign employees with a disability to vacant positions as the reasonable accommodation of last resort,” said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office.  “We are very pleased  that this lawsuit, which  arose from a single employee’s complaint, resulted  in the nationwide change we sought, and we applaud  Walmart for making that change.”

EEOC New York District  Director Kevin Berry added,  “Employers cannot refuse to offer a reasonable  accommodation required by law absent undue hardship. This case demonstrates that looking beyond the home store  for a vacant position  is not an undue hardship.”

The  EEOC’s New York District  Office oversees New York,  Northern New Jersey,  Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode  Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Dollar In, Dollars Out: Discount Retailer Settles ADA Suit Over Failure to Hire Disabled Applicant

It was clear to all concerned–though not the employer–that the reason this job applicant wasn’t hired was due to his disability.

Family Dollar Stores of Michigan, LLC, a retailer with discount stores throughout Michigan, will pay $25,000 and provide other relief to settle a federal disability-discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced yesterday. According to the lawsuit, Family Dollar violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by refusing to employ a job applicant who suffers from left-sided paralysis and wears a brace on his left arm. After being interviewed at the company’s Detroit location, the applicant was offered the position but was told that he could not start work until a few weeks later. Despite his requests for a start date, he was never placed on the schedule and never performed any services for the company. During this same time, the company continued to hire other non-disabled individuals to work as customer service representatives at the same store.

Such alleged conduct violates the ADA. After first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process, the EEOC sued Family Dollar in the Eastern District Court of Michigan (EEOC v. Family Dollar, Case No. 4:18-cv-13030).

In addition to the monetary relief, the 2 ½-year consent decree settling the suit provides for injunctive relief, training on the ADA, and reporting.

“Failing to employ an individual because of his disability violates the ADA,” explained Nedra Campbell, trial attorney for the EEOC. “Hopefully, Family Dollar will be able to fulfill its obligation to ensure individuals are not subjected to disability discrimination,” she added.

Family Dollar of Michigan, LLC is a subsidiary of Family Dollar Stores, Inc., which is a national retailer with headquarters in a suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina. It operates approximately 7,000 stores throughout the United States.

The EEOC’s Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and parts of Ohio.

EEOC, Property Manager Settle ADA Suit Over Firing of Employee Over Prescription Medicines

Employers may know best about some things, but they should leave medicine to doctors.

Boise-based Verity Property Management, Inc., will pay $22,500 and make substantial changes to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Sunday.

According to the EEOC’s investigation, Verity found an applicant so well-qualified that it offered her a job as a leasing agent, rather than the administrative assistant position for which she originally applied. On her first day at work, after drug screening results showed that she took medica­tions prescribed to her to treat a medical condition, Verity officials expressed concern that the common side effects associated with the medications would impact her ability to perform her job duties and questioned why she had not disclosed her usage. On her second day, Verity terminated her without further inquiry or discussion, even though she did not experience such side effects from her medication and was well able to perform her job duties.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from discriminating based on disability or perceived disability. The EEOC filed suit August 30, 2019 in U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho [Case No. 1:19-cv-00335-REB] after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

The consent decree settling the lawsuit provides $22,500 to the applicant in lost wages and compensatory damages. Verity has also agreed to implement preventative policies and procedures, to explain to employees their rights and responsibilities under EEO law, to provide annual training to all employees, and to report and monitor requirements during the decree’s five-year term.

“The ADA does not prohibit screening to prevent illegal drug abuse. However, a ‘drug-free’ workplace policy should not lead to denying employment opportunity to a worker lawfully using prescription medication to treat a medical condition,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney May Che.

EEOC Seattle Field Director Nancy Sienko added, “Under this settlement, Verity improves its hiring and employment practices and trains its employees to understand their rights and responsibilities under the ADA, including what is permissible and impermissible when it comes to pre-job offer medical inquiries and examinations. We commend Verity, which was recently acquired by new ownership, for demonstrating its commitment to discrimination prevention under its new leadership.”

According to www.veritymgt.com, Verity Property Management specializes in residential and commercial property management, and has about 23 employees with offices in various locations in Idaho. Verity’s corporate office is in Boise.

Cold Reception: Ice Cream Shop Violated ADA Rights of Hearing Impaired Worker, EEOC Alleges

I’ll bet this ice cream shop can hear its customers’ orders just fine. But when it comes to accommodating its workers who have hearing difficulties, it pretends not to hear.

Fourteen Foods, LLC d/b/a Dairy Queen Brazier, a limited liability company operating a Dairy Queen Brazier franchise in Savannah, TN, violated federal law by failing to provide a hearing-impaired crew member applicant a reasonable accommodation and denying him employment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed October 15.

EEOC alleged that the applicant had worked for a predecessor company at the same location for approximately two years. After new ownership took over, he applied for employment.  During the interview process, a company official told the applicant that he must wear a hat or a visor.  When the applicant said he could not do so because he wears a cochlear implant, the company required that he produce a medical statement from his doctor and a statement from the health department.  Although the applicant obtained the necessary medical information from his doctor and provided information from the local health department, the company official would not accept the information and refused to call the health department to confirm the applicant’s information. The company destroyed his application and refused to hire him.

The company’s alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which makes it unlawful to discriminate against an applicant by denying him a reasonable accommodation and refusing to hire him because of a disability. Further, the company could not produce the applicant’s application even though it admitted he applied for employment.  Destroying or losing records violates the recordkeeping provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which are incorporated into the ADA. The EEOC filed suit, (Civil Action No. 2:19-cv-02693 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Eastern Division), after first attempting to resolve the matter through its pre-litigation voluntary conciliation process. The EEOC seeks injunctive relief prohibiting Dairy Queen from discriminating against applicants because of their disability, as well as monetary damages, including back pay, and compensatory and punitive damages.

“The EEOC remains committed to eliminating discrimination in the workplace against persons with disabilities,” said Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi. “Companies cannot continue to use stereotypical reasons to avoid hiring persons with disabilities.”

Fourteen Foods, LLC, a limited liability Minnesota company, licensed to do business in the State of Tennessee, is a multi-unit owner and operator of 222 DQ Grill & Chill® restaurants and Dairy Queen Braziers in 13 states, including Tennessee, and has more than 9000 employees nationwide.

EEOC Says Tech. Co. Wouldn’t Interview Hearing-Impaired Applicant in Person, Violating the ADA

By refusing to interview a hearing-impaired applicant face-to-face, this California tech company bought itself a lawsuit for disability discrimination.

Foster City-based technology company Guidewire Software, Inc., violated federal law when it failed to accommodate and interview a qualified job applicant due to her hearing impairment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Com­mission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed recently.

According to the EEOC’s investigation, the applicant applied for a contractor position as a user experience designer and, based on her resume, Guidewire’s hiring manager emailed her to schedule an initial phone screening. The applicant responded immediately, requesting a face-to-face meeting as an accommodation since her cochlear implants limit the clarity of sound coming through telephones and computers.

Guidewire instead suggested using a technology known as “Relay Conference Captioning” and the use of sign language as a back-up. When the applicant looked into this alternative, however, she found that there was a waiting period to set up an account to use this technology. She immediately informed the hiring manager and asked about an alternative captioning service built into WebEx, the product Guidewire had already planned to use for part of the interview. She also noted that she does not use sign language.

Guidewire never responded to her email and instead conducted screening interviews with four candidates who did not request reasonable accommodation, and ultimately offered the position to one of those candidates, the EEOC said.

Rejecting a qualified applicant because of disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (CIV# 5:19-cv-06878) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC’s lawsuit seeks lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.

“Guidewire had already determined that this applicant was qualified,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Ami Sanghvi. “She simply requested a face-to-face meeting rather than a phone interview – something one Guidewire official deemed a ‘reasonable solution’ in their internal communications. By denying this reasonable request that would not have caused undue hardship, the company preemptively foreclosed this candidate’s shot to prove herself and earn a living.”

William Tamayo, the EEOC’s San Francisco District Office director, added, “Congress enacted the ADA to prevent just this sort of thing – employers refusing to consider qualified individuals be­cause of their disability.”

Tamayo noted that eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring is one of six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

EEOC: Company Violated ADA in Dismissal of Employee With Hearing, Speech Impairments

Employers can’t simply write off workers with disabilities as being unsafe for the job.

ASICS America Corporation (ASICS), a manufacturer of athletic footwear and accessories, violated federal law by firing a temporary worker because of her disabilities, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed last Friday.

According to the EEOC’s suit, on or about the first week in March of 2015, a temporary staffing agency assigned Shelby Orsburn, who has hearing and speech impairments, to work at ASICS’s warehouse distribution center in Byhalia, Mississippi. The lawsuit further alleges that  after Orsburn completed an orientation meeting and a video, members of ASICS’s human resources department told Orsburn that the company could not employ her because of her impairments. They said it was unsafe for her to work in the facility due to her disabilities and sent her home.  The EEOC charges that ASICS failed to engage in the interactive process with Orsburn to determine whether she could fulfill the essential functions of the position.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, Oxford Division, Civil Action No. 3:19-cv-00227, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit seeks monetary relief in the form of compensatory and punitive damages, backpay, as well as an injunction against future discrimination.

“Failing to engage in the interactive process with a disabled employee is illegal,” said Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee, and portions of Mississippi. “The EEOC will continue to hold employers accountable for failing to protect employees from unlawful discrimination.”